Are you dreaming of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Mark Cuban? Is there a business idea in your head so great that you’re practically bursting to share with the world before you spend the next thirty years lying on your yacht, petting your Lemur “Ben Franklin” and laughing maniacally to yourself? Well, dreams are built on process and hard work, so let’s take a quick look at some of the things you have to consider before you even think of raising that colossal round of venture capital…
1 – Tell A Story
Your idea may reside beautifully in your head, but expressing it concisely is the very first thing you have to get right, from an elevator pitch that trips off your tongue like Bond ordering a Vodka Martini, to an investment deck no bigger than 15 pages, to your 30 minute pitch that finishes with a room of VCs astounded by your vision, humility and delivery.
2 – Cover Your Bases
It doesn’t matter how great your idea is if there’s one stumbling block that everyone keeps bringing up. Your helicopter ejector seat invention may well have the pounds-per-square-inch propulsion system that’s never been seen before, but if you don’t have a way to remove the rotor blades, your business is not the only thing that’s going to get a haircut.
3 – Keep It Lean and Mean
VCs love sweat-equity, hard work and especially ping pong tables. If you’ve got five guys huddled around one with their MacBooks in your garage, it’s going to look like you’ve got the drive and common sense to lead a team and scale a business from scratch. The first quarter of a million you make is definitely best invested back into making the next ten million, rather than that Bentley you’ve test driven twelve times since you started the business.
4 – Know What You Don’t Know
The best CEOs and founders have great ideas that need other people. Understand your weaknesses and find people with strengths in those areas. No one likes a know-it-all and surrounding yourself with talent is the best path to success. And no, that doesn’t mean employing models: “swimwear Friday” is never conducive to productivity.
5 – Invent, Solve or Disrupt
Whether your business was conceived in a brainstorming session at MIT or at 3am over the last tequila shot any of you can remember, it’s got to have merit. And in the VC world that means it has to be new, it has to solve a problem that exists now, or it needs to change the way things work for the better.